Friday, July 4, 2014

Food is Love {homemade jam}

Food, at least in the hubster's family, is love. It seems like every time we see each other, it's over a huge meal filled with special dishes that usually take hours to make. Nothing is simple and everyone stresses over making everything just right.

I don't think things should be that way. I think food can be a part of love, but I'm more for simplicity and togetherness than slaving over a dish just to say I love you when there are so many other ways to say it.

In my family, for example, people also like to say I love you with food, but they go about it in a much different manner: they plan the food together, make the food together, and enjoy the food together. The key here is the togetherness. I loved it as a child, baking cookies with Aunt D, making Christmas goodies with Momma and Sissy, fishing and frying with Daddy... and I love it now, cooking dinner every Friday night with the Hubster, flipping banana pancakes with my dear friend Sarah, and making jam with my godson.

I had the extreme luck of babysitting my godson all this week - that's a lot of togetherness! {Those are his precious hands! Isn't he adorable? He loves looking through this photos and retelling the story of the baby white currants he found!} 

We played numerous board games, built tall Lego towers, and kicked the soccer ball around. We also gathered black and red currants together, washed them together, sorted them together, cooked them together, jarred them together, and enjoyed them spread on crepes together.

Now that's my kind of food is love. I don't want him to remember the jam per se, but what I do want him to remember is the time we spent together.

But just in case you're only here for the jam, I'll get right to it...

This isn't a recipe so much as a method, but so far it has worked for three out of three different fruits and five out of five different batches. I'd call that pretty good odds.

And it's super simple and highly customize-able. 

Step one:
Wash and sort your fruit, cutting larger fruits {such as peaches} into smaller chunks. No need to be precise here though, just cut away.

Step two:
Place everything into a pot and add about 1/4 cup apple juice for every cup of fruit or so. I used organic apple juice made from our own apples picked last autumn, but you can use whatever you have on hand. You can even use water - I tried, it stills works just fine. The juice simply helps sweeten things up a bit and the pectin naturally present in apples helps thicken the sauce up a bit. {All fruits contain at least a bit of natural pectin though, so don't stress it if you don't have any apple juice. Apple sauce could probably be substituted as well.}

Step three:
Simmer on medium-lower until thickened as desired. Be sure to stir every so often to keep it from burning. This step could take anywhere from one to four hours, depending on how juicy everything is. You can also turn up the heat a bit to speed things along, but be sure to stir more often if you do this.

Step four:
Taste {Be careful! It's hot!} and add some honey to taste. My cherries didn't need any honey. A case of peaches needed about 1/4 cup of honey. About 6 cups of red currants needed about 1/2 cup of honey. Just go with how it tastes to you. And feel free to use your favorite sweetener if you don't like or don't have any honey.

Step five:
Can the jam using your favorite method. I use my mother-in-laws' simple method, though I can't really suggest everyone do the same as I'm not convinced it's the safest method out there. All she does is fill reused glass jars up with boiling hot jam, screw the lid on tightly and wait for the pop. Every pot ends up "popping" closed and seals itself. It works, but as I said, it's probably not the safest way to do things :p

And that's it! Quick and easy, homemade, paleo jam - pectin free, low sugar or even sugar free!

Plus, if you get the kiddos in on it, the prepping goes by quickly and turns this into a together activity they are sure to love!

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